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The Importance of Having a Living Will

During the course of life, virtually anything can happen to anyone. Many of these are good things, but others can be very unfortunate. In some cases, your ability to function independently may be severely impacted, leaving you dependent upon the decisions of others.

Conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and other debilitating ailments may limit your ability to speak for yourself and make your wishes known regarding treatment. This is why it is important to have a living will.

End-of-Life ScenariosSCCimage2

A living will details your wishes about what should be done if you find yourself in an end-of-life scenario. This includes the kinds of treatments you would allow and what situations you would willingly endure. It is important to consider your own values as well as how you would answer the following questions:

• What measures should be taken to keep me alive?
• Should any treatment that doesn’t resolve the health problem be used?
• At what point would life not be worth living anymore?
• What measures should be taken to preserve my comfort?
• How much of a financial burden can my family handle?
• What treatments would be too much of a burden for loved ones? For myself?

These can be difficult questions to answer, especially since they involve issues we are not used to considering. However, it is best to make them now while you have a say in the matter.

Treatments

A large part of a living will involves determining what treatments you would wish to be given to you if you find yourself otherwise unable to voice your desires. Some of these treatments include:

• Resuscitation if your heart should fail
• Tube feeding
• Mechanical ventilation for breathing
• Comfort/palliative care
• Dialysis in case of kidney failure
• Organ and tissue donations you would accept
• Organ and tissue donations you would want to make
• Infection treatment, including aggressive antibiotic and antiviral treatments

It is best to outline how long and when such treatments should and should not be given to you. It can be helpful to involve a medical professional or trusted loved one to help with these decisions. The document should also designate someone you trust to make final decisions on these issues.

Filling Out a Living Will

The process often involves a probate lawyer to ensure the document is created properly. In Texas, in order for a living will to be valid, it must either be notarized or be signed in the presence of two witnesses. These witnesses must be at least 18 and competent. When filling out the details of your will or making other important decisions, professional caregivers such as those at Senior Care Centers can provide much needed information.

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